No. 41-60: Neil Clifford, Aldo, Ralph Lauren…


Myron Ullman
Chairman, CEO; J.C. Penney Co.
2008 Rank: 41

After president and chief merchandising officer Ken Hicks left for Foot Locker, Ullman, 62, assumed those additional roles while the firm searched for a replacement. But the executive shakeup hasn’t stopped JCPenney from boosting its profile this year. In July, the moderate department store bowed its first Manhattan unit, in Herald Square, bringing its store total to 1,109. Then, last month, it announced a deal with Liz Claiborne to stock the company’s lines exclusively beginning next fall. As part of the 10-year licensing deal, JCPenney also secured the right to buy the entire brand after five years. Investors responded favorably to the deal: On the day of the announcement, the firm’s stock price rose 0.7 percent to $35.54.

Power Players: Mike Taxter, EVP, stores; Cindy O’Connor, EVP, family footwear, women’s accessories


Neil Clifford
CEO; Kurt Geiger
2008 Rank: 43

Does Clifford have the Midas touch? Or are the weak British pound and strong tourist sales in London just making him look good? Either way, the results are indisputable. Clifford, 42, is on track to again post solid gains, thanks to noteworthy performances at tony destinations including Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty, where Kurt Geiger runs upscale multibrand shoe retailer. Over the summer, Clifford also inked deals with Nine West and Brown Thomas, the chi-chi Dublin retailer, bringing its high-profile roster of store concessions in cities across the U.K., France, Italy and the Middle East to 70. No wonder, then, that while others have been shedding jobs, Clifford has created tons of them, with plenty to come once he opens four planned Kurt Geiger stores before year end (bringing the total to 32). And he’ll need even more manpower next year, when he starts to license and distribute the Nine West and Easy Spirit brands.

Jim Issler
President, CEO; H.H. Brown
2008 Rank: 42

Issler isn’t letting a little thing like the economy stand in his way. This year, the 61-year-old acquired iconic 1970s brand Kork-Ease, set for a spring ’10 relaunch. And he rolled out Vintage Shoe Co., a men’s and women’s retro-inspired collection made in the U.S. Additionally, H.H. Brown inked a licensing deal with BBC International for a line of Born Children’s Footwear and Nu Born, a companion series of layette and toddler styles, both slated for next fall. And while Issler has added new brands to the roster, he remains focused on bread-and-butter lines Sofft, BOC and Born Crown, all contributing to strong company numbers this year. But Issler is also thinking outside the box, using his internal Web group, eDreams, to create sites for clients including FFANY and Foot Petals.

Power Players: Frank Rooney, chairman; Thomas McClaskie, president, Born; David Issler, president, Sofft

Carol Meyrowitz
President, CEO; TJX Cos.
2008 Rank: 47

While other retailers curled up to lick heavy wounds this year, off-pricer TJX Cos. went on the attack, leading to some very healthy financial figures. In fact, for the most recent quarter ended Aug. 1, the company hit record sales and earnings, and in September alone, its comp-store sales jumped 7 percent — and were expected to increase yet again in October. TJX’s value-focused TJ Maxx, Marshalls and A.J. Wright stores were particularly appealing to budget-conscious consumers looking for designer-label product. And though the firm already operates in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland and Germany, Meyrowitz, 55, has said she intends to grow the store brands further internationally, based on steady profit increases both here and abroad.

Power Player: Ernie Herrman, senior EVP, president, Marmaxx Group

Jim Tarica, Larry Tarica
Chairman, CEO; President, COO; Jimlar Corp.
2008 Rank: 59

Despite the global recession, the Taricas — Jim, 68, and Larry, 59 (current FFANY board chairman) — oversaw double-digit growth in 2009, with each of Jimlar’s divisions, including the company’s private-label business and Calvin Klein, Coach and Frye brands, adding to the success. While the privately held firm reports it is on track to bring in $500 million in revenue for 2009, the Taricas also bolstered the company’s headcount by adding about 80 personnel globally, and brought in additional private-label clients. Internationally, Jimlar experienced a jump in sales for Frye and Calvin Klein across Europe, Russia and the Middle East over the last year, and it aims to expand its 400-person staff in Asia to include a complete design, sales and distribution system. Back at home, expect to see Frye’s first brick-and-mortar store in New York sometime next fall.

Power Players: Jim Gabriel, group president; Tom Tarica, VP, private brands 

Bob Campbell
Chairman, CEO; BBC International
2008 Rank: 51

These are the times that try men’s souls and wallets. After 2008 proved to be one of the best in the company’s history, 2009 was a bit more arduous. But Campbell, 72, sees a rebound in sight, and he already expects 2010 sales to more closely resemble those of 2008. Thanks to brand debuts in the coming year, continued international expansion and plans to capitalize on the booming kids market, expectations for next year have been notched up. The company recently signed a deal with H.H. Brown to produce Born Kids Footwear. Meanwhile, his Polo Ralph Lauren and Guess kids’ lines are both seeing substantial growth, especially in Europe and Asia. To kick off the new year, the company will focus on its newest brand launches, including Osiris Kids, Born Kids: Nu Born and Pony Kids to name a few.

Power Players: Donald Wilborn, president; Tracey McLeod, president, sales, marketing; Donald Lee, president, sourcing

Mike George
CEO, President; QVC Inc.
2008 Rank: 52

Like any good TV executive knows, proper planning and programming win the ratings war — and bring in big bucks for the network. George, 48, apparently understands that very well. Even though QVC’s revenues dropped 4 percent in the second quarter, he is propelling the home-shopping company forward with new vendors and lineups. Among them, Jessica Simpson, Shape-Ups by Skechers, BZ by Banfi Zambrelli and Rachel Zoe’s jewelry line. George also is incorporating Facebook further into QVC programming. And there’s no denying the channel’s reach: QVCHD, launched last year, is already in more than 15 million homes in the U.S., and the online business has also seen healthy growth, adding a bigger audience for the network’s special fundraiser, QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale.” Next year, the network will head into Italy and possibly other markets, and expand its mobile site capability after experiencing significant growth in select markets, especially Japan, where 10 percent of its revenue comes from mobile sites.

Power Players: Claire Watts, president, U.S. commerce; Doug Howe, EVP, chief merchandising officer; Mary Campbell, SVP, merchandising; Tim Byrket, director, accessories, footwear

Peter Harris
President; Pedder Group
2008 Rank: 45

Consolidate and conquer — that’s been the battle cry at Pedder Group. Harris, 46, spent the year reallocating floor space in his stores to maximize profit. Among his many duties, Harris oversaw Lane Crawford’s footwear and accessories division; On Pedder, the designer footwear and accessories retail chain in Hong Kong, Greater China, South East Asia; the Mono Brand; and the Pedder Red divisions and franchise partnerships with designers including Christian Louboutin and Stuart Weitzman. Harris plans to expand his Louboutin branded stores: Next spring, a second Hong Kong location will open in Kowloon, adding to existing standalone units in Singapore and Indonesia. Harris continues to focus on more accessible contemporary brands such as Alexander Wang, Elizabeth & James and See by Chloé. And the company has fared well with affordable collections like Hunter and Ugg boots.

Mindy Grossman

Since joining HSN in 2006, Grossman, a former Nike exec, has repositioned the network as a major fashion player. The CEO has added about 70 fashion and beauty brands during the last few years, and more recently struck a buzz-worthy deal with Badgley Mischka for a new apparel, footwear and accessories line called American Glamour, set to debut this month. In another innovative move, HSN teamed up with Lucky Magazine for its annual Lucky Shops event, which takes place this week. Under the partnership, seven designers created exclusive product for the network. The firm also is getting in on the reality-show craze, working with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos’ production company to launch a show called “Mom,” slated to air on TLC next year. Grossman, 51, believes that extending the HSN platform will be lucrative — and ultimately help bring the company’s products to life.

Isack Fadlon
Co-owner; Sportie LA
2008 Rank: 44

It’s about to become a sportier world, and not just in Los Angeles. Fadlon, 44, had planned to open his first store outside of Los Angeles, in San Diego, late last year, but saw it get bumped back again and again. Now he’s finally open in what’s being billed as the first of two phases. If all goes well, another location could bow in the coming year. But that’s not all Fadlon has on his plate. He’s also partnered with ACI to relaunch the LA Gear brand, and the hallmark lighted soles are slated to arrive next month for men and women, with kids’ product following next summer. Kids are a running theme at the trendy retailer. Fadlon is turning one of his Melrose Avenue apparel locations into a kids’ shop, complete with shoe offerings from Reebok, Puma, Diesel and K-Swiss.

Power Players: Orna and Eli Amzaleg, co-owners

Michael Kors
Designer; Michael Kors
2008 Rank: 48

It’s a pretty good sign when you’ve become a household name. It’s even better when it’s the White House that’s talking about you. Kors, 50, continued his reign this year as one of America’s most prominent designers, delivering fresh takes on classic sportswear — making his clothes a favorite of the first lady. Spotlight aside, Kors took back control of his shoes late last year, ending his long-term relationship with Schwartz & Benjamin, which held the license for the bridge Kors line. Instead, the designer brought production back in-house, with the lower-priced Michael collection. Iris SpA, meanwhile, is creating the luxury line. Kors’ company seems to be doing well amid the tough economy, forging ahead with plans to expand: 25 new stores are slated for Europe in the next two years. In addition to opening flagships this year across the globe — most recently in London — Kors has also bowed a corporate office in Switzerland and a showroom in Milan.

Tarek Hassan, Sam Hassan
Owners; The Tannery, Concepts
2008 Rank: 50

The Hassans sure have a thing for store openings. Despite a dismal retail climate, Tarek, 39, and Sam, 59, are going full throttle with more Tannery doors, aiming to bring the total to four. The uncle-and-nephew duo are opening a 21,000-sq.-ft. Tannery this month in Boston, next to high-traffic neighbors including Apple and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. That follows the much-buzzed-about Concepts store they bowed in 2008, which is doing well, thanks to store exclusives and VIP treatments. So far, the Hassans like what they see: Sales across their entire retail portfolio and Web business are up modestly from last year.

Stanley Silver, Patti Silver
Owners; Fred Segal Feet
2008 Rank: 49

The glam demand may be waning, but the Silvers have a plan to keep shoppers in style. Stanley, 74, and Patti, 67, are pushing their high-low pricing strategy even further, leading to a product assortment that is both enticing and affordable. On the high end, Roberto Cavalli, Prada, YSL, Valentino and Christian Louboutin’s over-the-knee boots at $1,800 are still selling, but the duo’s real mission is to find less-expensive, attractive shoes that aren’t over distributed. Next year, the L.A. hot spot will bring in styles from Vivienne Westwood and the lower-priced Melissa by Vivienne Westwood collection, as well as Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Bernardo, DSquared and Auri. The collections supplement more affordable lines already in the store, including Velvet Angels, Rough Justice, Tory Burch and Report. Still, the couple is bracing for what they expect to be another challenging year ahead.

Nicholas Kirkwood
Designer, Nicholas Kirkwood; Design Director, accessories; Pollini
2008 Rank: 56

Kirkwood is clearly no one-hit wonder. The 29-year-old is definitely here to stay. Within the last year, his retail base surged to 105 worldwide locations, and Kirkwood now boasts dedicated space in London’s famed Dover Street Market, where he also debuted two exclusive flats for fall ’09. Next spring promises further growth for the brand, with the introduction of flat oxfords and sandals, alongside new heels and revamped platforms. Kirkwood also tried his hand at jewelry in recent months, with a special collection for Atelier Swarovski, including sculptural collar necklaces, earrings, cuffs and rings. Additionally, Kirkwood’s widely acclaimed runway collaborations with Rodarte have boosted his in-demand status. And if he wasn’t busy enough, Kirkwood has also continued to revamp the image of Italian brand Pollini as design director of accessories.

Danny Wasserman
Owner; Tip Top Shoes, Tip Top Kids
2008 Rank: 60

It’s a case of less is more for Wasserman. In 2009, the independent learned that it really is possible to do more business with a tighter merchandise mix. To that end, Wasserman, 62, kept Tip Top Shoes profitable in trying times with lean inventory in all the right categories, especially wellness. Brands such as Shape-Ups by Skechers and MBT registered in a big way for the retailer, and the store continues to expand into the category. This fall, Wasserman brought in a collection of FitFlop boots, which is already garnering interest from loyal shoppers. With wellness footwear driving adult sales and the kids’ business thriving on Ugg boots, the retailer’s sales have held steady.

Aldo Bensadoun
Founder, CEO; Aldo Group Inc.
2008 Rank: 58

Maybe he’s good-natured, or maybe he thinks it’s just good business. Whatever it is, Bensadoun, 70, is sharing his retail wisdom with others. The recently launched Aldo Retail Services division, created to help non-competing footwear brands establish their own retail chains, signed Sixty Group as its first client. Aldo will use its expertise to take an established wholesale brand operating a few flagships and expand that into a chain of 25 to 100 stores. While Bensadoun won’t work with direct footwear competitors, he will consider brands in the comfort and kids’ categories. This new frontier complements the firm’s 1,400 store empire, which includes Spring, moderately priced product for young consumers; FeetFirst, branded fashion for thirtysomethings; Little Burgundy, branded fashion for twentysomethings; and Globo, family shoe stores.

Power Players: Réjean Dionne, president; David Bensadoun, group VP, Aldo Global Retail; Norman Jaskolka, group VP, Aldo Group International

Gilbert Harrison
Chairman; Financo Inc.
2008 Rank: 55

As the economic doldrums dragged on this year, investment guru Harrison, 68, spent much of his time advising fashion and footwear firms that were teetering on the brink of disaster. Among them was Gottschalks, which Harrison and his team helped to negotiate through bankruptcy (though, on the brighter side, another Financo client, Forever 21, benefited by buying several store locations from Gottschalks and the bankrupt Mervyns). Harrison has also helped Atelier Fund, owner of Harrys of London and other brands, assess the value of its assets. All in all, it was a relatively quiet year for Financo in the footwear segment, though two or three blockbuster shoe acquisitions were said to be possible as of mid-October. And to keep up forthcoming activity, Harrison plans to continue growing his own team after adding a new managing director in Los Angeles this year.

Power Player: William Susman, president

Bob Goldman
CEO; Chinese Laundry
2008 Rank: 70

When the going gets down-and-dirty, Chinese Laundry often cleans up. Goldman, 66, has exceeded his own growth plans even in the face of some pretty nasty headwinds. For example, the Chinese Laundry line has increased its prices to around $100, with some of the higher-priced items among the top sellers. The Dirty Laundry business, meanwhile, has grown five-fold since its 2008 debut. In the fourth quarter, the company will launch the Wash and Mujimoto collections of sandals and fashion athletic sneakers. Goldman also is being opportunistic with his real estate, negotiating favorable lease terms with landlords and continuing to expand. The company last month opened its third store, this one in Las Vegas, with plans to add another five locations next year. Goldman also inked a deal with a Spanish distributor to bow Chinese Laundry-branded stores across Europe, and talks with an Asian distributor are under way.

Power Players: Carol Goldman, corporate EVP; Alan Rapoport, president, Amano

Danny Schwartz
CEO; Schwartz & Benjamin
2008 Rank: 57

Schwartz & Benjamin is upping its roster of younger brands and boosting business by launching a private-label program. The 86-year-old firm, led by Schwartz, this year debuted its first collection of women’s footwear with high-end denim brand Seven for All Mankind, and continues to drive business with Juicy Couture and Kate Spade, which has seen a jump in accounts amid the poor economy. And while Schwartz, 56, lost the Kors Michael Kors license when the designer took it back in-house, he is forging ahead with the Diane von Furstenberg line, which launched two years ago and has been one of the firm’s strongest performers. Schwartz also has been maximizing the power of the Web, working with fashion blogs such as Stylecaster to promote the company’s own label, Daniblack.

Power Players: Steve Shapiro, president; Barbara Schwartz, director, product development

Ralph Lauren
Chairman, CEO; Ralph Lauren
2008 Rank: 62

Footwear continues to be a burgeoning category at Ralph Lauren — and Lauren, 70, has made several big moves. His high-end collections business, led by Jerome Espinos, has racked up impressive gains this year, thanks, in part, to higher sales in Europe. At home, the lines debuted in Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. The more moderately priced Lauren brand, headed by Joel Oblonsky, continues to make waves as well. The women’s Lauren label moved into The NPD Group’s list of Top 10 brands in the “better” fashion category this year, while the Polo men’s label moved up to the No. 4 spot in NPD’s “better” men’s fashion brand ranking.

Power Players: Roger Farah, president, COO; Espinos, president, Footwear Collection Brands; Oblonsky, president, Lauren, Polo, Chaps, American Living

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